The New York Times > Books > Sunday Book Review > Essay: An Idea Whose Time Has Come Back: "But it turns out the e-book market has been changing course and, though still tiny, has been growing at double-digit rates. It is, in fact, the fastest-growing segment of the comparatively static publishing world. Between 2002 and 2003, the number of e-books sold rose 71 percent, according to the industry's trade association, the Open eBook Forum. The industry posted record sales in the first quarter of 2004, a 46 percent increase compared with the same period last year. Still, last year's sales of 1.4 million downloadable books are minuscule compared with the more than 2.2 billion books sold in the United States in 2003.
What made this growth possible is a phenomenon the pioneers in the electronic publishing industry didn't foresee: the explosion of cellphones and other hand-held devices with small screens capable of displaying text. About 80 percent of the downloadable books sold to individuals today are read on such devices, according to the two top online electronic retailers, eReader and Fictionwise."
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